The NerdBug is going into kindergarten next year and I am a little daunted in the planning of our year. So I just rechecked out So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling by Lisa Whelchel from the library. I have already read it and it is a great book full of encouragement. That is providing me with the “You go girl!” that I need but it doesn’t do the work for me. In the book there are various ways to homeschool mentioned. I will be honest, the more I look around to see what there is, the more my head hurts. Right now I have decided to just look at 2 ways and then move on to the next options, so first up is Classical and Unschooling.
(A side note, when faced with many choices I usually look and compare 2 at a time. Take the winner of those 2 and then compare it with the next. It stops me from getting overwhelmed, as much.)
Unschooling, in a few ways, naturally draws me. To start with, I don’t think traditional school is working so isn’t all unschooling from there? According to the Family Unschoolers Network:
Our primary purpose in unschooling is to keep alive the spark of curiosity and the natural love of learning with which all children are born. We want our children to accept learning as a natural part of living, and an ongoing process that continues throughout life. We want their learning to remain an integrated process in which all subjects are interrelated. We also want to allow them the time to pursue a subject as fully as they want, rather than imposing artificial time constraints on them.
I was very self driven to educate my self on many things as a child. I would hear my parents discussing a historical or political issue and I would go research it. Then the next time it came up I could join in the conversation (Now really was this my quest for knowledge or fitting in, who knows?). In reality, this drove my stepdad nuts. He would give me a hard time about “having to know something about everything”. This gives me some faith that children want to know about everything so if they are self directed they won’t just learn nothing. But how are you to accomplish that? According to Unschooling.com:
Read, play, sing, dance, grow things, write. All of these things and more are things unschoolers do. We do them because they interest us and bring us joy or because they help us accomplish our dreams. We do the things that have meaning in our lives and contained within those activities is real learning.
To me it appears that the children pick out what they want to learn about. In many ways, as I stated before, I think that might work but..(there is always a but). If college has taught me anything it was seeing that many people choose to have tunnel vision. I know many(not all are this way) wonderful, brilliant engineers but the only thing they really know about is engineering, math and science. They probably know who is President and what party they are a member of but that is about it. If you want to discuss any political issue, historical event or religious history they are at a loss because it never interested them as kids.
Classical is another method that really interests me. It seems to also include the Charlotte Mason theory. According to the Well Trained Mind:
Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.
This makes a lot of sense also. Both NerdDad and I read so much as kids and memorized so much, we both reap the rewards (both of us separately read the dictionary and the encyclopedia). It is logical that if you have a rich base you can build anything. This method does appear to be stiff and a bit rigid. According to many sources I found, the kids should be doing Latin and Greek very young and that has a lot to do with the logic development. I admit that intimidates me a bit. The other side is, I see the lack of logic in the world and the price is very high.
Now, I admit I feel a little burned by the Unschooling method already with my kids. I took some of this approach with potty training my eldest. Everyone said, “don’t push a boy, you will scar him for life” and I listened. I waited, he was 2 no interest, I waited, 2 1/2 no interest. Finally at 3 NerdDad said, “Sit on the potty and try”. We had to give him a schedule and structure to at least try or he wouldn’t at all. This creates a fear in me that the children may not be willing to do the work to acquire the needed logic, math and reading skills. Can you marry these 2 styles to encourage a love of learning? Maybe use classical education very young with a little unschooling on the side and as the kids get older shift? As I am looking at books and planning out the year I am scared. While frankly, I know I will do fine in comparison to public school, will I be giving my son all that he needs to be his best. Hopefully, I will get copious amounts of input from all of you in the blogosphere and with that and prayer we will muddle through.